By Nadine Tuback
You're sitting there in your fave floral summary frock, casual wedges, hair glossy and with a hint of beachy wave; you have toilet paper wrapped around your belly and a baby bottle hanging around your neck - yes, you are the perfect baby-shower guest.
You participate in all the games with gusto and you're all smiles as the glowing mum-to-be is oohing and aahing as she opens her presents.
You picked out the most gorgeous onesie and had it wrapped in neutral yellow with a white bow. It's about three gifts away from being opened after she unwraps this green package with a similar white bow. Mum looks at what's inside, exclaims with joy how magnificent the contents are and then, with a flourish, holds it up for all to see. CRAP! It's the exact same onesie you spent ages picking out.
Oh well, at least it wasn't the set of candle holders the mum tried very hard to hide her WTF face for but failed miserably. Seriously, who in their right mind would light candles in the baby's room?
When it comes to buying gifts for a mum-to-be, it's very difficult to get it wrong - unless you are completely clueless and think a remote-control car is a good idea for a newborn. And it's not your fault if it is a double-up, not to the mum's liking or if she doesn't appreciate the thought process that went into choosing what you believe is a useful/fun/unique gift.
I've always been of the opinion that any gift given with good intentions and with thought is a great gift. The key word here is thought, because it is the lack of thought that might make you the subject of a mums-forum rant about the worst gift ever.
Is the baby due in summer? Then that gorgeous bear snowsuit you saw on sale will be useless in a newborn size. However, you may have some insider info and know that the parents have booked a winter holiday in six months' time and that same outfit in a size 6-12 months would be an awesome gift.
Similarly, this is a very important factor to consider when buying clothing/blankets/sleeping bags/pyjamas in any size. Work out what age the baby will be when that item will be used, and it won't land up in the "to be regifted/returned" pile.
Has the mum revealed the baby's gender? Oh, it's a boy? Fab. Then perhaps the frilly pink blanket your daughter didn't use and you've been waiting to regift is not such a great idea.
It's safer to either stick to neutral colours or an item that has no gender assigned to it at all, like a toy, a book, milestone cards or something for mum, even.
Are you close to the family and have a good idea of their likes/dislikes or are you an acquaintance/colleague and are flying blind? If you know the mum wants something in particular or has a certain style, that will give you an idea of what they may need/want. Use this info to help you find something mum will appreciate.
Is mum super organised? Chances are she will already have all the must-haves - whether big-ticket items (such as changing mat, rocking chair, baby swing) or smaller ones (like nappy caddies, toiletries, linen).
In this case, I would recommend putting a little effort into finding out what her lust-haves are - these are the things she wants but might not have the budget for.
What would you want if you were about to have a baby? Would you want a snot-sucker or a box of nappies? No? Then don't buy them for someone else. Some mums would be grateful to get such practical gifts, though. Would you want someone to buy you items for the nursery?
Some mums-to-be spend months planning their baby's room and extra nursery items, while thoughtful, may be useless to them. Others, like me, can never have too much "stuff" and will make use of each and every gift.
Would you feel comfortable in sexy lace lingerie just after you'd pushed out a baby and have pads plugging just about every orifice? While it's nice to think about mum, remember that things have changed drastically for her. I loved the gifts where people got creative and thought about what we might need as a family during the hectic period when a new baby arrives. Dinner deliveries, offers of babysitting, baby cookbooks, massage, post-natal training sessions are all great ideas.
Robert Charles Whitehead said: "Never confuse thoughtlessness with malice." And I think this sums up exactly what I'm trying to get across here - one may not like every gift you get, but if they appreciate that you have put a lot of thought into choosing gifts, they may also not be so cruel as to make such a big deal about it and potentially embarrass someone. This is a very special time for everyone - make mum feel special and she will love you for it.
Nadine Tuback is a mum of two young kidlets, a journalist and the founder of Adexa's Treasure gift books, a brand-new concept in gifting for new mums and bubs.